One of the hardest parts of being a parent is learning to let go and allowing your child to grow up. I have struggled with this for several years now and it has finally sunk in that I cannot always be there and my children will grow up whether I am ready or not.
My eldest child will be eighteen in two months, it’s hard for me to believe because it feels like just yesterday that I was welcoming him into my life. It has been extremely challenging for me to learn to let go; I give my children curfew’s, I need to know who they are with and where they are at all times and that’s ok but I now realize sometimes it can be too much.
As parents we worry about our children all the time and that’s completely normal but as much as we worry and we try to control all that they do sometimes not allowing them to experience life and make mistakes can hurt them. I shelter my children because I don’t want anyone to hurt them, because I want them to be happy and have a good life but the truth is life comes with many challenges. And sometimes we need to experience some challenges to help us learn to cope and prepare us for life when we grow up.
I am lucky, I have great kids. They are not trouble makers, they are respectful and dedicated in school. They are not perfect, they have made mistakes as we all do but their hearts are in the right place.
My daughter for instance is at an age where she wants to be with her friends on the weekends and it’s so hard for me to give her freedom. It’s not because I don’t trust her because I do trust her she is a very smart girl, it’s that I don’t trust society. I’ve even given her the freedom to have a boyfriend and that was very hard for me. The boy is a very smart and nice kid and I’ve even made the effort to get to know his family but the thought of my daughter growing up is scary. I don’t want her to feel like she has to sneak around or hide things from me, I want her to know she could always trust me. Last night I let her go to Fright Nights at the local fairgrounds with her best friend and they met a group of friends from school there. I was paranoid but I dropped the girls off; she was so excited. She took her dads phone and checked in with me as I asked her too and before I dropped them off we talked about safety. In the end she had a blast and I am proud of myself that I gave her the opportunity to experience that.
My third child just turned thirteen so I now have three teenagers, it’s not easy. He now wants the freedom to go to the park without supervision frequently. Usually when he is with a friend I am not so reserved about it but when he wants to go alone it scares me. Yesterday I allowed him to go to the park which is almost 2 miles away on his bike to try out for a travel basketball team. I picked him up when it was dark and he was more than half way home, I was very proud to see him wearing his helmet. Safety is something we talk about often, these moments reassure me that they are paying attention. I am very grateful for that.
It’s amazing how the younger kids try to mimic their older siblings and fight for independence at such a young age, letting go is one of the hardest challenges of parenting. Letting them grow up is hard but necessary and despite how hard it is I have to let go just a little and allow them the space they need to grow up.